Fears grow over use of chemical weapons


SYRIA’S PRESIDENT Bashar al-Assad would not hesitate to use chemical weapons on his opponents if cornered, according to a senior defector from the regime.

Nawaf Fares, former ambassador to Iraq, said unconfirmed reports indicated that such weapons might have already been used. He also said major bombings across Syria had been orchestrated by the regime in collaboration with al-Qaeda.

Mr Fares told the BBC he would not rule out the use of chemical weapons by the government he used to represent. He described Dr Assad as “a wounded wolf and cornered” who would only be removed “by force”.

“There is information, unconfirmed information, of course, that chemical weapons have been used partially in the city of Homs. It doesn’t occur to any Syrian, not only me, that Bashar al-Assad will let go of power through political interventions . . . He will be ousted only by force,” he warned.

Syria is believed to have a stockpile of chemical weapons and there have been growing concerns in neighbouring countries and among western governments about the security of such weapons should the regime fall.

Mr Fares also dismissed any chance of success for the United Nations and Arab League special envoy Kofi Annan as “impossible”.

“Several months have passed and . . . the regime hasn’t implemented a single article of [Mr Annan’s] plan.”

He claimed that Sunni Muslim militants in al-Qaeda were collaborating with the regime, which is dominated by those from the minority Allawite sect. He said: “Al-Qaeda is searching for space to move and means of support, the regime is looking for ways to terrorise the Syrian people”, implying there was a confluence of aims between the regime and the terrorist network. – (Agencies)